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Dutch Propose to Change Transgender Rules

Wednesday Sep 14, 2011
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The Netherlands intends to change a law that puts restrictions on transgender people who try to register their new gender on official documents, the government said Tuesday, the same day Human Rights Watch issued a report critical of the statute.

Justice Ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema said authorities have been working for months on scrapping the requirement for transgender people to undergo surgery and sterilization before registering their new gender.

Junior Justice and Security Minister Fred Teeven will send the draft legislation to legal advisers on Wednesday before presenting it to the Cabinet. Lawmakers will ultimately have to vote on any change.

"The problem is solved," Alkema said.

In its report, Human Rights Watch said the requirement for surgery and sterilization before new gender can be officially recognized is upsetting for transgender people who have not yet had the surgery.

"Their documents do not match their deeply felt gender identity," said Boris Dittrich, a former Dutch lawmaker who is now advocacy director in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.

"This leads to frequent public humiliation, vulnerability to discrimination, and great difficulty finding or holding a job."

Dittrich told The Associated Press that Dutch authorities had been pledging to change the law for some two and a half years, but kept postponing action.

He added that it could still take years for the legislation to be studied by legal advisers, the Cabinet and then voted on by lawmakers.

"It is good news, but I still have to see it before I believe it," he said of the new legislation.

Dittrich is due to meet Teeven on Thursday to present him with the report.

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